Can you secure funds from your bank for your startup?
The answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ depending on your business type, business model and bank’s policies.
The major points you need to understand about banks, when it comes to small businesses, are:
- Banks are responsible for other people’s money and have several policies in place, so they avoid risk as much as possible.
- Banks often have lengthy and stringent rules when dealing with customers
- Banks mostly offer only loans; they rarely participate in equity or other types of financing
- Banks look at assets and balance sheets, they don’t normally offer loans based on ideas or business plans
- Banks try to earn a predictable and long-term income on their operations
So, by now you probably guessed if banks are the right destination for your project’s financing. If you are a more traditional business house with a long history of business success and acquired some assets and have a stable balance sheets, banks are for you.
If your business exists only in your mind and on paper, you can safely forget about banks.
There is a chance that your bank is startup friendly and is participating in some sort of funding programs as part of some economic drive, but they are more likely to entertain a brick and mortar business that is likely to acquire a few physical assets, rather than backing a company involved in creation of a digital product or service. And you get only a loan, not equity. Check it out with your bank’s representative about the financing options that they have for your kind of business.
Sometimes, if a small personal loan is enough for you to get started with your startup, then you can consider it if the interest is not too high. As investors, banks enter only after your business has shown some traction and stability. But there is some chance that you may still get financed by a bank based on your industry and your product. It is always better if you check with your bank first.
Follow these simple steps; it only takes a day or two to find out if your bank has something to offer you. It’s a lot better than chasing angel investors or VCs.
- Go to the banks you use for your personal banking needs or explore an online company.
- I recommend starting with your local bank (if you use one) because you already have a relationship with those companies.
- Set up an appointment with a loan officer.
- Show up to your meeting prepared.
- Dress professionally. Bring your business plan.
- Explain to the loan officer how much money you need and what it will be used for.
- Depending on your situation, you may qualify for loans for certain aspects of your business, such as equipment.
- If the bank denies your small business loan application, you could also try to get a personal line of credit from that institution, or from an online company.
- You can use that line of credit to fund your initial business expenses.
- Don’t quit after your first appointment.
- You could try other banks and financial institutions if your first stop is unsuccessful.
Don’t get disappointed if you didn’t find any help from banks. Banks are more oriented towards consumers and assets, and definitely not the best places to look for financing your startup. Also, banks don’t understand newer technologies or business models. So, don’t really worry about the outcome with banks, there are several other options for financing your startup.